MOORE COUNTY, N.C. — Leeshena "JoJo" Moore was just 7 years old when she was raped and murdered in her grandmother's home. Twelve years later, her family is still in pain.
"She was the star in our family," said Roderick Moore, Leeshena's uncle. "We sit around and conversate about her and what could have been."
Sammy Perkins, the boyfriend of Leeshena's grandmother, was convicted of Moore's murder in 1993. A jury sentenced him to death. In May 2004, a federal judge put that sentence on hold when Perkins challenged whether the state's form of execution, lethal injection, is cruel and unusual punishment.
"It's not fair because my baby didn't get a second chance. You know I never believed in capital punishment until this happened," said Theia Moore, Leeshena's grandmother.
After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a similar case this summer, Perkins' execution is now set for October. Roderick Moore said the process has been an emotional drain on his family.
"It is very important to some people in our family that he gets what's coming to him," he said. "There is some relief because if it happened to us, it could happen to anyone else, someone else's family."
Roderick Moore said while it has been tough, time and faith helped erase the hate he once felt for Perkins.
"I've learned how to forgive the man for doing what he did to our family," he said. "I don't understand it and I'll never understand it, but I forgave him for it already."
Perkins' execution is now set for Oct. 8. Moore's family does not plan to attend.